EVANSTON – Just awful.
Michigan was awful. Northwestern was awful.
But the result was acceptable.
Despite a terrible performance by both teams, the Michigan women’s basketball team picked up its second conference road win of the season, beating Northwestern, 47-40.
Michigan won the game despite shooting an abysmal 27.9% from the court and worse 14.8% from beyond the three-point line.
“We just were awful shooting from the arc,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “Just not good at all. It was terrible – unbelievably terrible.”
After the first 28 minutes of the game, the Wolverines’ chances didn’t look good. They had just 22 points and were shooting 1-for-18 from three-point range.
But then, junior Jessica Minnfield started the turnaround for Michigan.
Down four, sophomore Melinda Queen missed an open layup. She grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked it back to Minnfield for a wide-open three pointer, cutting the Wildcats’ lead to one (26-25) with 12 minutes left.
The Wolverines (7-6 Big Ten, 14-9 overall) played well enough down the stretch to scrounge out a win.
Beginning with the three-pointer, Michigan went on a five-minute run, where it outscored Northwestern 11-0. It gave the Wolverines enough of a cushion to win.
“We just slowed down,” Minnfield said about the offense. “(We) took our time, and worked around the offense.”
Michigan had a nine-point lead with 4:26 remaining, but Northwestern (0-13, 4-21) cut the lead to four as the Wolverines went almost four minutes without a basket.
But the Wildcats’ offense, ranked last in the Big Ten, could not pull off the comeback and eventually resorted to fouling Michigan in the last minute.
At times it seemed neither team wanted to win. Northwestern made several brutal turnovers against lax defense early, and played terrible offense for most of the game.
“Honestly I don’t know what it is about these people,” Borseth said about Northwestern. “We just don’t shoot well against them. . We couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn in the first half.”
Northwestern took an early lead thanks to the efforts of Amy Jeschke. The freshman scored the first eight Northwestern points while defended by Michigan sophomore Krista Phillips, prompting Borseth to pull the center from the game.
“I just asked (Phillips) if she’s ready to play,” Borseth said. “We all saw what happened the first three minutes of that game. I had to take (her) out of there.”
But after halftime, Phillips responded to Borseth’s call, and held Jeschke – Northwestern’s leading scorer – to just three points.
As it turned out, the Wolverines were just lucky they were playing the Wildcats. As bad as Michigan played, Northwestern played worse. The Wolverines took 13 more shots in the game and had seven fewer turnovers.
Despite the win, Michigan will still be looking past this one.
“I’m happy with it,” junior Carly Benson said. “I’m not going to say if it’s lucky. I’m walking out of there not thinking about it anymore.”